What Is Adrenal Crisis?

Adrenal crisis is a potentially life-threatening situation that occurs when the body has insufficient levels of cortisol, a hormone the body produces to help it deal with stress. Adrenal crisis is sometimes referred to as “Addisonian crisis” due to its association with Addison’s disease, a condition in which the patient’s adrenal glands do not produce enough steroid hormones, particularly cortisol. Patients with congenital adrenal hyperplasia (CAH), a rare condition affecting the adrenal glands, are also at risk for adrenal crisis.

  • What Causes Adrenal Crisis?

    When a patient suffers an adrenal crisis, it is likely due to one of three situations:

    1. The adrenal glands, which are responsible for cortisol production, are unable to make enough cortisol.
    2. The pituitary gland, the gland that regulates cortisol, fails to trigger the release of cortisol.
    3. The adrenal glands have been removed or are non-functioning and the patient does not take the prescribed medication to replace cortisol.
  • What Are the Symptoms of Adrenal Crisis?

    Symptoms of adrenal crisis may include:

    • Vomiting
    • Diarrhea
    • Abdominal pain
    • Headache
    • Fever
    • Low blood pressure
    • Loss of consciousness
    • Hypoglycemia
    • Dehydration
    • Dizziness or confusion
  • How Serious Is Adrenal Crisis?

    If not treated immediately, adrenal crisis can be very serious and even life-threatening. Without proper treatment, complications may involve shock, coma, seizures or death.

  • How Is Adrenal Crisis Treated?

    Adrenal crisis is considered a medical emergency and is typically treated with an injection of hydrocortisone plus fluid therapy. Hospitalization is usually necessary for treatment and monitoring.

  • What Should I Do if I Think I'm Suffering from Adrenal Crisis?

    If you think you’re suffering from adrenal crisis, you should see a doctor immediately, who will immediately administer glucocorticoid replacement. The CARES Foundation provides a helpful printout of emergency room instructions that you can download here.

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Congenital Adrenal Hyperplasia Clinical Trials 2017

If you are an adult with a genetic diagnosis of classic Congenital Adrenal Hyperplasia, you may soon be eligible to participate in a Phase 2 clinical trial for a new, once-a-day therapy for CAH. To be notified when a site opens near you, sign up for our mailing list.

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Spruce Biosciences is a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical focused on developing new treatments for rare endocrine disorders. Our mission is to develop meaningful therapies for patients with rare diseases affecting the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis (the “stress pathway”). We are committed to transforming the quality of life for patients who have been underserved by scientific innovation.